Visible boundaries such as fences, signs, and dividing lines painted on streets and highways are easy to identify, but boundaries are also the unseen—invisible structures that support healthy, productive lives, and those can sometimes be more difficult to identify. Unseen, not non-existent. There’s a big difference.
Webster defines a boundary as, “something that marks or fixes a limit…a territory, border, frontier.”
Personal boundaries are limits or borders that define where you end and others begin. Your personal boundary is defined by the amount of physical and emotional space you allow between yourself and others.
Physical boundaries define and protect your body, your personal space, and your sense of privacy. Other physical boundaries involve clothes, shelter, safety, money, space, noise, and so on.
Just as physical boundaries define who can touch us, how someone can touch us, and how physically close another may approach us; psychological boundaries define where our feelings end and another’s begins. Many of us with eating challenges have no idea about this differentiation.
How can we set healthy boundaries, replace destructive habits, and undo the damage we’ve done to our bodies?
Quite simply, we cannot do this on our own—our sinful nature will keep us from making the transformational changes we need to make. Only through God’s help can we receive a new nature. Only by reorganizing our relationships and putting God first, understanding our responsibilities in Christ, and developing spiritual discipline, can our lives begin to grow in the character of Christ.
Do you wonder how to know if a lack of healthy boundaries is part of your life? If you can answer “yes,” to one or more of the questions below, it may be time for you to start making different choices based on new personal property lines—that is, boundaries.
- Do some people take advantage of you?
- Do you sometimes have trouble saying, “no?”
- Do you often suffer from feelings of guilt?
- Do you ever feel as though you have no control over some areas of your life?
- Do you try to have too much control over some areas of your life?
- Do you avoid conversations you know you should have?
- Do you wish you could be more assertive and in control?
- Do you lose patience with certain people or personality types?
- Do you feel anxious before a difficult conversation?
- Do you think of what you “should have” said after the conversation is over?
- Do you know when someone is violating your space?
God gave us the physical vehicle—the vessel—to carry out His purpose and plan for our lives – followed by the glorious gift of His plans!
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Adapted from Setting Boundaries with Food, Six Steps to Lose Weight, Gain Freedom, and Take Back Your Life by Allison Bottke © 2008. Harvest House Publishers. All rights reserved.
Visit the Setting Boundaries Books website today for more information.